September Midnight

September Midnight

By Sara Teasdale

Lyric night of the lingering Indian Summer,

Shadowy fields that are scentless but full of singing,

Never a bird, but the passionless chant of insects,

Ceaseless, insistent.

 

The grasshopper’s horn, and far-off, high in the maples,

The wheel of a locust leisurely grinding the silence

Under a moon waning and worn, broken,

Tired with summer.

 

Let me remember you, voices of little insects,

Weeds in the moonlight, fields that are tangled with asters,

Let me remember, soon will the winter be on us,

Snow-hushed and heavy.

 

Over my soul murmur your mute benediction,

While I gaze, O fields that rest after harvest,

As those who part look long in the eyes they lean to,

Lest they forget them.


About the author

(Excerpt from https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/sara-teasdale)

Sara Teasdale (1884 -1933) was born in St. Louis, Missouri to a wealthy family. As a young woman she traveled to Chicago and grew acquainted with Harriet Monroe and the literary circle around Poetry. Teasdale wrote seven books of poetry in her lifetime and received public admiration for her well-crafted lyrical poetry which centered on a woman’s changing perspectives on beauty, love, and death. Many of Teasdale’s poems chart developments in her own life, from her experiences as a sheltered young woman in St. Louis, to those as a successful yet increasingly uneasy writer in New York City, to a depressed and disillusioned person who would commit suicide in 1933. Although later critics and scholars have marginalized or excluded Teasdale from canons of early 20th century American verse, she was popular in her lifetime with both the public and critics. She won the first Columbia Poetry Prize in 1918, a prize that would later be renamed the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

Teasdale’s early collections of poetry include Sonnets to Duse, and Other Poems (1907); Helen of Troy, and Other Poems (1911); and Rivers to the Sea (1915). Reviewing the 1915 volume Rivers to the Sea, a New York Times Book Review contributor deemed the book “a little volume of joyous and unstudied song.” Such damningly faint praise followed Teasdale throughout her career; critics found her poetry “unsophisticated” but full of musical language and evocative emotion. A New York Times Book Review contributor, writing about the 1917 edition of Love Songs, asserted that “Miss Teasdale is first, last, and always a singer.”

 

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